Review: Super Princess Peach
Posted 16 Jul 2006 at 15:44 by Sam
Joy, Rage, Gloom and Calmness; while you may actually experience all of these emotions while playing this game; they actually make up the core game play elements in this surprisingly original and genuinely emotional title.
Super Princess Peach marks the dual-screened debut for Nintendo's flagship female who prior to present day had become more accustomed to being rescued as opposed to becoming a heroine; a role she must now partake. Dispensing with the unnecessary details, the plot goes something like this; Bowser "borrows without asking" an item known simply as the Vibe Scepter from a place called Vibe Island (located a short distance from the Mushroom Kingdom). Bowser then uses the strange powers of the scepter to capture Mario and his friends.
Enter Peach who returns from her walk with a pair of her mushroom associates to the castle which is in a scene of emotional turmoil. Peach finds Bowser boasting kidnap success note, Toadsworth gives Peach a magical umbrella that he mysteriously acquired and she then sets off umbrella in hand to Vibe Island in search of the infamous portly plumber, and so the adventure begins!
Straight from the off controlling Peach is a breeze, it might not be quite as intuitive as controlling Mario but the control scheme still has that feel of refinement that you expect from a first party Nintendo title. You move with the D-pad, actions are assigned to the A B X Y quartet and the shoulder buttons are used for when you want to walk in order to creep past sleeping enemies or move carefully across dubiously constructed platforms.
Indeed, unsurprisingly, platforms feature heavily throughout this perilous journey. Perhaps not as predictable though is the way in which they (the platforms) and other objects of both animate and inanimate varieties can be manipulated. This is where the titular Princesses emotions come into play, with each emotion (joy, rage, gloom & calm) being assigned to accordingly animated hearts mapped to the touch screen.
When one of Peach's emotions is required you simply tap the heart and away she goes! These can be turned on and off like a tap at the players whim with each one affecting the game in a variety of weird and wonderful ways. Instances include burning bridges and enemies in a fiery rage, watering plants which grow into scalable vines (ala Super Mario Bros style) and also freezing walkways with her very own tears.
Thanks to Perry the animate umbrella (yes it talks) the learning curve is excellent with Perry giving helpful hints via the touch screen whenever you hit specific blocks placed strategically throughout the colourful environments of the game. This seems to help broaden the appeal of the game as platform novices may find themselves bashing their heads underneath each hint block (which is preferable to bashing it against a brick wall) whereas more experienced players can opt to explore and experiment without the restrictions of being forced to read information unnecessarily.
Peach's sidekick isn't just merely limited to dishing out information, Perry can also dish out punishment toward enemies in a variety of ways; namely this is achieved by collecting upgrades contained both in the levels and via a handy shop contained on the map screen. These abilities include but aren't limited to firing a blast of energy by charging up, floating in the air to clear long gaps, and my personal favorite which involves transforming into a fish shaped submarine in the underwater subsections which protects the princess and via blowing into the microphone enables you to fire bubble shaped projectiles.
Inherently the title borrows heavily from Nintendo's main flagship platform series Super Mario Bros. This comparison is easily drawn as the graphical style and the enemies are virtually identical when taken at face value but have also been given an original twist. The graphics alter slightly when using emotions and all the various enemies have four variations based on the games moods. This makes for an unusual yet amusing twist especially when you see that first sobbing Goomba run towards you before you either dispatch or consume it via Perry (picking enemies up and crouching absorbs their energy turning it into your own vibe energy)..
Level design is kept to an original structure which, while not being particularly taxing in the puzzle department, is kept clean and concise throughout. Structurally the main goal of each level is to guide Peach & Perry to the end of each level with the optional sub-goal of rescuing three Toad's which are contained in pink "?" blocks which are spread strategically throughout each level.
Although overall difficulty is kept to an average level, this actually works to the games advantage; it has a few sections and boss battles that you will probably find yourself replaying at least once or twice. Apart from that, it's relatively easy-going, not insultingly easy but certainly not taxing to any extent of the imagination.
Credit where it's due however, as the actual levels are brilliantly designed and are extremely fun to play. Vibrant colour palettes, infectiously catchy background music and hordes of emotionally distressed enemies all help to add to what is already a slightly surreal but typically Nintendo platform game.
The games only letdown is it's longevity issues, once you have laughed and cried your way through the forty plus levels spread across 8 worlds and have beaten some genuinely decent end of level boss battles, there is very little left to make you return. Sure enough there are purchasable mini games and puzzles that are fun to play for a while but there's not much left in the way of replay value apart from playing through the adventure again with a slightly tweaked difficulty setting.
Super Princess Peach is a decent mixed bag of elements; the atmosphere is relatively calm throughout with only a few parts that may inflict rage, however, work through the gloom of certain repetitive elements and you will find a platform game that has a unique charm, lots of trademark Nintendo humor, but, above all is simply a joy to play. In a word; Peachy.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Super Princess Peach is a platform game taken straight off a Nintendo blueprint; it has the charm and simplicity reminiscent of the “good old days” and yet remains fresh thanks to solid, original gameplay.
Peach's starring debut!
Original gameplay elements
Classic Nintendo style
Decent minigame distraction
Not challenging enough for some
Little incentive for replay